Issue: 1/2021

Pamiętnik Literacki 1 / 2021

File with Issue Contents

Bibliographical Review 1/2021

Co-financed by the Ministry of Culture, National Heritage and Sport from the Fund of Culture Promotion, of the subsidies set up in games included into the state monopoly, pursuant to art. 80, section 5, of the Act of November 19th, 2009, on games of chance.

Emancipatory Project of the First Polish Avant-Garde

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The author of the paper examines the emancipatory discourses in the programmatic texts of the Polish Futurism, focusing on the issues of class and sex equalities, on postulates of art socialising, and on the role that language might perform in the project conceived in the aforementioned dimension. The article also touches the problem of the Polish Futurists’ attitude to past and tradition, convincing that their stance that aimed at burying tradition proved to have more in common with building the “new” than with destroying everything which belonged to past at all costs. In line with the thesis that Futurism met with favourable conditions in peripheral and semi-peripheral regions, “futurisation” was to have performed the function of modernisatory discourse. The paper’s line of reasoning is set in the terms rooted the philosophy by Jacques Rancière, by Michel Foucault, in Immanuel Wallerstein’s world-systems theory, and in settlements by female and male feminist criticism researchers.

General and Mary Jane Shoes
On Juliusz Kaden-Bandrowski’s “Generał Barcz” (“General Barcz”)

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The paper refreshes a literary-oriented outlook view on most famous Juliusz Kaden-Bandrowski’s novel—”Generał Barcz” (“General Barcz”). As its starting point, the paper sees the observation that the interpretations produced to that date focused on the political relevance and implicit keys (“pakierstwo” <“information overpacking”> of the political novel) or stylistically expressive words  (“kadenizmy” <“Kaden words”> of their author).

The author of the article suggests a different point of view in which he accentuates setting the novel’s issues in Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel’s philosophy of history. It allows to discern that Kaden-Bandrowski in his novel describes the process of shaping the independent Second Polish Republic as anachronistic and peripheral, and thus missed, revolution. The reasons for the fall can be traced in that it has no solid social and economic basis (often recollected “miękkoszcz”  <”mekhkhoshch” = ‘softness’> in the novel) that must many a time confront itself with the parallel woman emancipation. The endmost aspect causes that the first plane of the novel is occupied by the issues referring to negotiating the new contract of sex and sexual order.

“Generał Barcz” (“General Barcz”) as a novel about a revolution also projects a specific role of the writer and literature. The figure of writer Rasiński unjustly remained on the margin of researchers’ interest. In the proposed interpretation, the author postulates acknowledging the protagonist and his metaliterary statements as critical for the order of meanings produced in the novel.

“Uranian Soul”
A Different Reading of Andrzej Strug’s “Pokolenie Marka Świdy” (“Generation of Marek Świda”)

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The study is an analysis of the 1925 work through the prism of Camille Flammarion’s philosophical conceptions, especially the theories contained in his astronomical romance “Uranie” (“Urania”). The author of the article also examines the protagonist’s ontological status, and arrives at the conclusion that the dreaming Świda represents the “weak” subjectivity which refers to Young Poland’s worldview and practice. The paper also touches the issue of masochism as the paradigm that characterises the most seminal female-male relationships in the novel. This relationship is set contrasted with Urania, idealised by the protagonist, a symbol of Flammarion’s cosmic utopia and an expression of yearning for the order projected by the 19th century.

Witkacy’s Lookalike Converting

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The author’s basic principle in the article is an analysis of the relation borne between Witkacy and his four mirror images in the famous photography “Autoportret wielokrotny w lustrach” (“Multiple Self-Portrait in Mirrors”). Extracting the structure of the relations, the paper shows that it is conceived of as a peculiar metaphor of Witkacy’s dissociative identity structure as each of the mirror lookalikes is one of his own incarnations. Witkacy’s dividing-into-four seen in the photography is a starting point to the lookalike-converting taking place in the writer’s private life, i.e. to constant striking poses and putting on masks. The study also shows that the writer’s reference to each of the lookalikes corresponds with the many motifs and caricaturally constructed phantom-like figures in his dramas and novels. In this sense the structure of the Witkacy’s relation to the four of his lookalikes in “Autoportret wielokrotny w lustrach” (“Multiple Self-Portrait in Mirrors”) may be seen as an initial interpretive key in reference to the whole of his literary output.

Either Word or Body
Creative Dialectics in the Third Part of Bruno Schulz’s “Traktat o Manekinach” (“Treatise on Mannequins”)

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The article is an interpretation of the third part of Bruno Schulz’s “Traktat o manekinach” (“Treatise on Mannequins”). Canonical text reading was performed, employing the anthropological tools that allow for the context of gender, and the study particularly describes the matter of maternalistic and paternalistic order rivalry. Special meaning is given here to the issue of competition which refers to male and female creative potential. The part of “Traktat o manekinach” (“Treatise on Mannequins”) subtitled “Dokończenie” (“Completion”) sketches a vision of male creation that realises with abstract civilisation tools and with a creative word as its token. It is the order that in Schulz’s texts enters into conflict with the female formula of creation effectuated by materiality supplemented by life element—the body’s dominium.

Towards Hermeneutics and Impossible Ethics
Kafka and Gombrowicz

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The article interprets the famous scene from Witold Gombrowicz’s “Dziennik” (“Diary”) in which the writer saves beetles on a beach. The episode is discussed in a comparative context (a similar scene in Kafka’s diary), philosophical (Kantian morality), and theoretical (Derrida and animal studies). Following the argumentation offered in the article, Gombrowicz challenges the attempts at creating universal morality and suggests his own ethics in which the crucial meaning is given to the issues of individual decisions and personal responsibility.

Pawel Huelle’s Reading alongside Walter Benjamin

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The author interprets the novel “Weiser Dawidek” (“Who Was David Weiser?”) by Paweł Huelle against the background of Walter Benjamin’s historiosophical theses. She points out the similarities between Benjamin’s thought of the time stopped at the moment when the Messiah appeared and Huelle’s novel. The encounter between the narrator and Weiser occurs when the regular flow of time is interrupted, and Weiser himself can be interpreted as the incarnation of the suppressed past and its “secret index by which it is referred to redemption” (Benjamin). In the further part of the article the author compares the novel “Weiser Dawidek” (“Who Was David Weiser?”) with other Huelle’s texts the action of  which follows a similar pattern.

The Work—A Horizon of Editorial Activities

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The paper polemises with Maria Prussak’s and Paweł Bem’s theses referring to the methodological assumptions of practising scholarly editing. The author formulates a thesis that a critical edition of a literary work is possible, and his line of reasoning employs the categories of a literary work and authorisation.

The Vivacious Science of Franciszek Siedlecki

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The article examines the work of an eminent Polish literary scholar, structuralist, versologist, essayist, and poet Franciszek Siedlecki, who died prematurely in 1942. The author claims that Siedlecki’s oeuvre taken only as a whole, unseparated into scientific studies, essays, poems, and letters—can be considered as a model of the modern literary theory scholar’s life and work. This is because of Siedlecki’s being “betwixt and between” in two meanings: literature and literary studies, and between science and politics, where both meanings are dependent on each other. The “double-handed” writing, proper for the modern literary theory studies, as the author argues, apparently can and does have a clear political and social dimension.

The analysis takes into account mainly the less known or even unknown texts by Siedlecki—essays published in prewar periodicals as well as his letters found in the archives in Warsaw, Vilnius, and New York—and treats them as counter-narratives that splinter the widely accepted beliefs about both Siedlecki’s legacy and the origins of Polish structuralism, undermining the allegedly autonomical status of the latter. Seen this way, Siedlecki also today is becoming a surprisingly interesting scholar and writer.

Not only on Stefan Grabiński’s Baptism Certificate

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Archive search queries on Stefan Grabiński and his origin, of which the writer’s act of birth was the keystone, harvested in new settlements or specifications that support the hypotheses of his former biographers. As it was settled, Grabiński originated from a family of Greek Catholic origin both from his father and his mother’s side, while his grandfather and grand grandfather were parish priests. The origin was traced back to the third generation, and the dates of births and deaths of Grabiński’s sisters—Zofia, Maria (Czajkowska) and Jarosława—were detected.

An attempt at reconstructing the moves of the Grabiński family showed that in the period of Stefan’s childhood, in connection with his father’s employment, they often changed their whereabouts, which might have influenced Grabiński’s subsequent bothering states of alienation.

Professor Stefania Skwarczyńska
An Attempt at Subjective Biography

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The paper is constructed from three partially concurrent parts, namely from a biography of Stefania Skwarczyńska—a distinguished literary theoretician and historian, then from history of Chair of Literary Theory, University of Lodz, which in the year 2020 celebrated its 75th anniversary, and ultimately from the life of Grzegorz Gazda, Skwarczyńska’s close co-worker, continuator of the many of her research and editorial initiatives. The sketch documents Skwarczyńska’s achievements and those of her alumni and students, making indebted gratitude of memory the main source of knowledge.

A Cultural Studies Approach to Reymont
Review: Małgorzata Litwinowicz-Droździel, Zmiana, której nie było. Trzy próby czytania Reymonta. (Warszawa 2019)

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The review paper is devoted to Małgorzata Litwinowicz-Droździel’s „Zmiana, której nie było. Trzy próby czytania Reymonta” (“The Change That Was Not. Three Attempts at Reading Reymont”, 2019), a proposal of a new view on Władysław Stanisław Reymont’s three pieces composed in 1890s, namely “Pielgrzymka do Jasnej Góry” (“A Pilgrimage to Jasna Góra”), “Fermenty” (“Ferments”), and “Ziemia obiecana” (“The Promised Land”). Litwinowicz-Droździel sets the works in a broad cultural studies contexts and employs them to reflect on the modernising changes that took place in Poland towards the end of the 19th century. The reading model that she suggests depicts Reymont as a thoroughly modern writer and violates the accepted modes of interpreting his work.

On Irzykowski’s Bridges
Review: Sylwia Panek, Mosty Karola Irzykowskiego. Poznań 2019

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The review discusses Sylwia Panek’s book on Karol Irzykowski’s “bridges,” i.e. his encounters as a literary and cultural critic with the founders of the Polish modernism (Stefan Żeromski, Zofia Nałkowska, Wilhelm Feldman), with the anthropologist Georg Simmel, and with the theoretician Viktor Sklovsky. Presenting Irzykowski’s dialogues with someone else’s thought, Panek reconstructs the writer’s conceptions of literature and his workshop as a critic. The reviewer fully appreciates Panek’s presentation and analysis.


Damaging Knowledge
Review: Anna Maria Skibska, Mistyczne zaułki dyskursów. Rzecz o słownikach niemożliwych. Poznań 2019. „Filologia Polska”. Nr 210

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The review discusses Anna Maria Skibska’s book “Mistyczne zaułki dyskursów. Rzecz o słownikach niemożliwych” (“Mystical Recesses of Discourses. On the Impossible Glossaries”) published in 2019. The reviewer is favourable in analysing Skibska’s idea and her ambition to comprehend the historically, linguistically, and culturally differentiated field area material. By contrast, she is critical about Skibska’s thinking and writing style, and in particular about the argumentative strategy employed by her, namely repeating someone else’s establishments, random analogies, and arbitrary associations, as well as unconcern about the clarity of her own argument.

Autobiographies Rewritten in Secret and from a Distance
Review: Artur Hellich, Gry z autobiografią: przemilczenia, intelektualizacje, parodie. Warszawa 2018

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Discussing Artur Hellich’s book “Gry z autobiografią: przemilczenia, intelektualizacje, parodie” (“Plays with Autobiographies: Omissions, Intellectualisations, Parodies”), the review is focused on reconstructing the seminal assumptions of the work (Polish culture post-war context’s influence on the shaping of various plays with the convention of Western-European autobiography), and on the employed interpretive method (one text read in a broad context of an author’s entire output).


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